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Posts tagged ‘New York City’

Chris Christie on Defense as NJ Hosts Super Bowl.


Gov. Chris Christie was born and raised in New Jersey, but his football allegiance is to the Dallas Cowboys. He played catcher on his high school baseball team and has been a lifelong Mets fan, though his friends and foes alike probably would agree he governs like a linebacker.

In case you missed the highlights of his exploits on the political playing field, here’s how the tough-talking governor, caught up in the first scandal of his administration, got to where he is today as New Jersey finds itself in the spotlight as host of Sunday’s Super Bowl.

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FIGHTING CORRUPTION

Christie’s first attempt at elected office didn’t go well. He was a one-term county office-holder before being voted out of office. But he found a different and more noticeable way to burst onto the state political scene: He became a prolific fundraiser for George W. Bush in 2000.

Once elected president, Bush rewarded Christie by making him his surprise pick to be U.S. attorney for New Jersey, the state’s top federal law enforcement official, starting in 2002.

The former corporate lawyer quickly made a name for himself as a corruption-buster, winning convictions of more than 130 public officials over seven years. He reveled in talking about putting away politicians on the take, even for seemingly minor offenses.

“The longer we vote them in,” he said in a 2008 speech, “the more bulletproof they feel, and the more entitled they feel to become corrupt.”

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OVERCOMING THE ODDS

There was speculation Christie would run for governor in 2005, but he decided to keep his job as U.S. attorney. By the time the 2009 gubernatorial election rolled around, however, the state’s Republican powerbrokers were lined up behind him.

Still, Christie was the underdog to Gov. Jon Corzine, a Democrat who spent tens of millions of his own money on his campaigns in a state where Democrats enjoy home-field advantage.

Christie hammered away at discontent with Corzine, who had raised taxes.

He was the first Republican elected statewide in New Jersey in 12 years and came into office pledging “to pick Trenton up and turn it upside down.”

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TALKING TOUGH

Once in office, Christie introduced himself to the state anew by holding frequent town hall-style meetings where he showed himself adept at calling audibles and going off-script.

At one forum, a teacher complained that Christie was not being fair to public schools. As he denied that, he noticed the educator rolling her eyes. Then he went off: “I stood here and very respectfully listened to you,” he told her. “If you want to put on a show and giggle every time I talk, I have no interest in answering your question.”

The mostly Republican crowd cheered.

As he built a reputation for bluntness, he also showed he could get difficult things done, forging agreement with the Democrat-controlled Legislature on bills to make public workers play more for pension and health care benefits and eliminate lifetime tenure protections for teachers.

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AIMING HIGHER

The Grand Old Party, and the country, took notice.

“Big Boy,” as Bush called him, created such buzz that some deep-pocketed donors were urging him to run for president in 2012.

The closest Christie would come— after repeatedly stating his disinterest in seeking his party’s nomination — was making Mitt Romney’s short list for VP. Christie would give the keynote address at his party’s nominating convention, a speech that was televised in prime time, adding to his national exposure.

Though he said he wasn’t ready to be president, Christie told Oprah Winfrey in 2012: “I’ll be much more ready four years from now.”

Adding to speculation that he would indeed jump into the 2016 presidential campaign, Christie had gastric banding surgery a year ago to help him lose weight, addressing what some believed to be his biggest liability in seeking national office.

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BUILDING A BRAND

Willing Democrats in the Legislature helped Christie demonstrate his skill at bipartisanship, providing a stark contrast to the perennial gridlock in Washington.

Superstorm Sandy, the state’s worst-ever natural disaster, helped cement his reputation as a leader. His job approval rating soared as he tirelessly traveled the state to comfort victims and rally devastated communities afraid they would never be the same.

It was hardly noticed that he was unable to usher in a tax cut during his first term, or that he lost a court battle over gay marriage, which became legal in his state last year.

With his popularity in the stratosphere, no big-name Democrat was willing to challenge him during his run for a second term. He swamped a relatively little-known state senator, Democrat Barbara Buono, by 22 points, securing endorsements from more than 50 elected Democrats and winning about half the Hispanic vote.

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HITTING THE BRAKES

Documents released Jan. 8 revealed that aides to the governor were involved in blocking local-access lanes to the busy George Washington Bridge, apparently to cause delays to punish a Democratic mayor in a community at the foot of the span leading to New York City.

The governor issued a public apology while denying any personal knowledge or involvement in the political vendetta. Four of his top aides or associates resigned or were fired.

Now a state legislative committee and federal prosecutors are investigating.

The scandal threatens to undermine Christie’s second term and upend any ambitions to run for president.

 

© Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
Source: Newsmax.com

Bill Clinton Swears in de Blasio as NYC Mayor.


Image: Bill Clinton Swears in de Blasio as NYC MayorBill de Blasio is sworn in as the mayor of New York City on Jan. 1 by former President Bill Clinton while de Blasio’s family, Chiara de Blasio, Dante de Blasio, and wife Chirlane McCray look on.

Bill de Blasio, an unabashed liberal Democrat who campaigned to reduce the gap between New York City’s rich and poor, was formally inaugurated on Wednesday as the city’s 109th mayor at a ceremony on the steps of City Hall.Former President Bill Clinton administered the oath of office using a Bible once used by Franklin Delano Roosevelt.

De Blasio had been sworn in earlier, just after midnight, at a ceremony at his home in Brooklyn.

He succeeds Michael Bloomberg, who led the city in the aftermath of the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001 and the recession six years later. Bloomberg’s policies have been credited with making the city safer, greener and more livable.

Bloomberg, who is leaving City Hall after 12 years, has said he plans to take a two-week vacation in Hawaii and New Zealand with his longtime girlfriend, Diana Taylor.

Then, the billionaire, who has homes in Bermuda and London, has said he will focus on his charitable foundation, Bloomberg Philanthropies, and remain active in public health, gun control and government innovation.

Running for office, de Blasio presented himself as an anti-Bloomberg candidate, decrying the “tale of two cities” that he said has emerged as New York shed its reputation, from the 1970s and 1980s, as a gritty and dangerous place.

After a resounding victory in November with more than 70 percent of the vote, de Blasio pledged to confront an affordability gap that has left those in the middle and bottom rungs of the economic ladder struggling to pay for basic services such as housing and mass transit.

“When I said we would take dead aim at the tale of two cities, I meant it. And we will do it,” de Blasio said in excerpts of his inaugural speech released beforehand.

“That mission — our march towards a fairer, more just, more progressive place, our march to keep the promise of New York alive for the next generation — it begins today,” he said.

Over the last decade, as the city prospered, apartment rents in New York City rose about 44 percent and the cost of a monthly Metro Card jumped 60 percent.

De Blasio has made some major promises, including a signature proposal to create universal access to pre-Kindergarten and middle school after-school programs, and his critics are likely to seize quickly on his ability to deliver.

“We will ask the very wealthy to pay a little more in taxes so that we can offer full-day universal pre-K, and after-school programs for every middle school student,” de Blasio said in the prepared remarks. “We do not ask more of the wealthy to punish success. We do it to create more success stories.”

Those programs depend on approval by state lawmakers and Governor Andrew Cuomo of an income tax increase on the city’s highest earners. Cooperation from Albany is far from assured.

De Blasio has also pledged to improve police and community relations to extend New York’s historic drop in crime as well as to fight the closing of community hospitals.

While Bloomberg has left the city with no budget deficit for the current fiscal year, contracts for all of the public sector unions have expired.

In a news conference on Tuesday, de Blasio said he hoped to have the new contracts in place within a year.

De Blasio began his career in government working under David Dinkins, the city’s first black mayor who was elected in 1986 and was the last Democrat to hold the post.

In 2000, when former U.S. first lady Hillary Clinton ran for U.S. senator in New York, de Blasio was her campaign manager.

He went on to serve two terms on the New York City Council and four years ago was elected public advocate – a citywide office with a budget of just $2 million that is generally seen as a springboard for the job of mayor.

On Wednesday, the city’s new comptroller, Scott Stringer, and its new public advocate, Letitia James, also were sworn in. Both are Democrats and close allies of de Blasio.© Copyright 2013 Bloomberg News. All rights reserved.

Source: Newsmax.com

Facebook’s Zuckerberg Tops 2013 Charitable Giving List.


Image: Facebook's Zuckerberg Tops 2013 Charitable Giving List

By Andrea Billups

Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg led the way on the giving list for U.S. philanthropists, gifting a Silicon Valley foundation with nearly $1 billion along with his wife, Priscilla Chan.

Zuckerberg, 29, who founded the social media website while a student at Harvard, offered the Silicon Valley Community Foundation 18 million in Facebook shares, totaling about $992 million.

The youthful social media pioneer joins 14 other big ticket donors in the U.S., including outgoing New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg and businessman and political activist David Koch, who were among those giving away at least $100 million of their fortunes at one time, according to the Chronicle of Philanthropy, which released its annual charitable giving list Wednesday.

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Zuckerberg is the first person aged under 30 to top the list of biggest givers.

The year’s top 15 donors gave a total of $3.4 billion, the Chronicle noted, calling 2013 “notable because of a strong rebound in the number of gifts of $100-million or more.” The total amount of gifts of $100 million or more reached $9.6 billion —a jump of more than one-third over the 2012 figure.

Universities were the big gainers with 12 of the 15 biggest gifts going to higher-education institutes. The University of Michigan received two of those.

Zuckerberg made the same donation last year, 18 million shares of Facebook stock, but in 2012, those shares were valued at much less, worth under $500 million, Forbes reported. With stocks making significant gains in 2013, Facebook shares rebounded as well, nearly doubling Zuckerberg’s net worth from $12.5 billion last year to $25 billion this year.

Nike chairman Phil Knight came in second on the 2013 list, giving $500 million to the Oregon Health & Science University Foundation for cancer research. Outgoing New York mayor Bloomberg was third pledging $350 million to Johns Hopkins University and financier Charles Johnson was fourth for his offered $250 million pledge to Yale.

The others on the list are: Real estate developer Stephen Ross, $200 million pledge to the University of Michigan; real-estate heiress Muriel Block, $160 million bequest to the Albert Einstein College of Medicine and Yeshiva University; real-estate develoeper John Arrillaga, $151 million pledge to Stanford University; Qualcomm co-founder Irwin Jacobs, $133 million pledge to Cornell NYC Tech; Berkshire Hathaway vice chairman Charles Munger, $110 million pledge to University of Michigan; David Koch, $100 million pledge to New York-Presbyterian Hospital; real-estate developer Frank McCourt, $100 million pledge to Georgetown University; investor Ronald Perelman, $100 million pledge to Columbia Business School; United National Corporation chairman T. Denny Sanford, $100 million pledge to the University of California at San Diego; financier Stephen Schwarzman, $100 million pledge to Tsinghua University; and real-estate heiress Deborah Joy Simon, $100 million pledge to Mercersburg Academy.

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© 2013 Newsmax. All rights reserved.

Ex-NYPD Chief Kerik: My Attorney Helped Send Me to Prison.


Image: Ex-NYPD Chief Kerik: My Attorney Helped Send Me to Prison

By Sandy Fitzgerald

Former NYPD Commissioner and 9/11 hero Bernard Kerik has filed a complaint with the New York state bar accusing his high-profile attorney Joe Tacopina of working with prosecutors to send him to prison.

Kerik was sentenced to time behind bars after pleading guilty to two misdemeanor charges and admitting accepting $165,000 in apartment renovations from a company that was allegedly tied to the mob, The New York Daily News reports.

Tacopina, representing Kerik, assured him his legal troubles were over, but two years later Kerik was sentenced to 48 months in federal prison.

Kerik now accuses his attorney of helping federal investigators put him behind bars.

In his complaint to the bar, Kerik accuses Tacopina of being involved in “conduct involving dishonesty, fraud, deceit, and/or misrepresentation.”

He also accuses Tacopina of revealing information crucial to his defense to federal investigators, improperly contacting Kerik in 2007 after he was indicted, and attempting to defraud Kerik of a seven-figure finder’s fee as part of a real estate deal.

The charges were filed before the disciplinary committee of the New York Supreme Court, Appellate Division for the First Judicial Department.

Tacopina denies the claims, and his attorney Lanny Davis says that if any of the accusations were true, Tacopina already would have been sanctioned.

“Mr. Tacopina in 22 years of law practice has never received a bar complaint, let alone any discipline,” Davis told the Daily News. “Mr. Tacopina’s spotless record with the bar speaks far louder than the lies and innuendo that are being spread by those with an obvious agenda.”

One of Kerik’s major complaints is that Tacopina met with prosecutors, an accusation Tacopina denies. He says he only met with prosecutors once or twice for less than two hours to authenticate financial records.

But Kerik says that in March 2007, prosecutors disqualified Tacopina from representing him and then converted him into a witness against his former client.

Kerik says Tacopina then contacted him, which is against court rules. Tacopina’s attorneys deny that claim.

Kerik is also considering a malpractice suit against Tacopina, said one of his attorneys, Boston-based Raymond Mansolillo.

“We’ll assess the information that we’ve gleaned, and we’ll determine which avenue to take,” Mansolillo said. “I’m looking into whether any [of Tacopina's representation] had any indirect or direct effect on where Bernie ended up.”

The U.S. Attorney’s Office in White Plains, which prosecuted Kerik, declined requests for comment.

But documents obtained by The Daily News show that the office questioned Tacopina.

“You can’t talk about things that would lead your client into an ambush,” Mansolillo said. “We have information that they did talk. We don’t know why. Those questions may have to be revealed by the U.S. attorney. It could go in a lot of directions.”

The men were close friends and business partners for years before Kerik faced the federal charges.

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© 2013 Newsmax. All rights reserved.

Cuomo Fighting de Blasio over NYC Council Speaker.


By Lisa Barron

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo has apparently picked his first fight with Mayor-elect Bill de Blasio’s by trying to stop his liberal pick for City Council speaker, Melissa Mark-Viverito.

The Democratic governor has been trying to drum up support instead for Councilman Dan Garodnick, Councilwoman Mark-Viverito’s opponent in the race for the city’s second most powerful position, the New York Post reported Monday.

“It’s certainly not in Cuomo’s political interest to have another left-wing activist along with de Blasio running the city,” a Democratic city leader told the Post of Cuomo’s effort to upset de Blasio’s endorsement of Mark-Viverito. “The sense is that Cuomo wants to see de Blasio defeated on this one, so that he’ll start off as mayor weaker and not stronger, relative to the governor.”

Cuomo, first elected in 2010, has recently launched his 2014 re-election campaign, presenting himself as an economic moderate.

“The governor, who wants to run for president, doesn’t want to see the city turned into a People’s Republic of New York at the same time as he’s trying to make the state at least look like it’s business friendly,” a political observer told the Post, referring to .

De Blasio, who has called for higher taxes on the wealthy, endorsed Mark-Viverito, one of his strongest supporters in the mayoral election, for speaker earlier this month.

“The mayoral meddling in Council business was unsurprising but unseemly, especially from someone who used to accuse Speaker Christine Quinn of being too close to Mayor Michael Bloomberg,” wrote the New York Times Editorial Board on Sunday.

“Now we’re about to get a speaker with an enormous debt to the mayor, leading a legislative body that is supposed to be an independent counterweight to the executive.”

The Times editorial continued, “Meanwhile, there are 50 others in the council who need to remember that electing speaker is their decision, not any party boss’s or mayor’s. It is their institution whose role and reputation they are bound to protect.”

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© 2013 Newsmax. All rights reserved.

De Blasio to be Sworn In by Bill Clinton.


Bill de Blasio will be sworn in as mayor of New York City by former President Bill Clinton.

The Democrat will be inaugurated as the 109th mayor of the nation’s largest city during a ceremony Wednesday on the City Hall steps.

His transition team announced Saturday that he will be sworn in by the former president. De Blasio worked in Clinton’s administration in the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.

Clinton will use a Bible once owned by another former president, Franklin D. Roosevelt.

The de Blasio transition team says former Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton also will attend the New Year’s Day ceremony.

De Blasio managed her successful 2000 Senate campaign.

De Blasio is succeeding Mayor Michael Bloomberg, who is leaving office after three terms.

© Copyright 2013 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Source: Newsmax.com

UN Makes First Staff Cut Since 1945 in Budget Deal.


UNITED NATIONS  — The United Nations authorized a staff cut for the first time since the international body was created in 1945, yielding to pressures from member states to reduce spending as governments suffer from financial strains.

The U.N. General Assembly Friday approved a net reduction of 219 positions, or 2 percent of all U.N. posts. It also approved a one-year freeze in compensation and a two-year freeze on benefits allowance.

Major contributors to the U.N. budget such as the United States, the largest donor, in 2010 began pressuring the New York-based United Nations to reduce its spending as they endured austerity measures to recover from the global financial crisis. Negotiations pitted major developed countries that pay most of the bills against developing nations that seek to increase UN development spending.

The U.N.’s staff cut is “crucial” and will “eliminate unnecessary, duplicative or outdated posts,” Joe Torsella, the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations for management and reform, told the General Assembly Friday.

“At a time when the budgets, crucial services of many common system organizations have been squeezed, these measures will hold compensation costs in place, until we can act in the next session,” Torsella said.

The staff cut is part of the 2014-2015 U.N. budget and a settling of accounts for this year’s extra-budgetary spending. The U.N.’s 193-member states approved $5.53 billion for the next two years, a 1 percent decrease from the previous two-year period.

The United States had also sought in vain to reduce the amount retroactively billed by the UN for 2013. The U.N. Secretariat is allowed to report additional yearly expenditure through a mechanism called “recosting,” to account for fluctuations in exchange rates, changes in yearly budget appropriation and cost of living adjustments for U.N. staff.

While there were no “recosting” reductions, the General Assembly instead ordered an independent study of possible options to change the recosting system.

The budget doesn’t include peacekeeping, which for the fiscal year ending June 30, 2014, is about $7.54 billion, or the costs to operate several major U.N. agencies funded by voluntary contributions from member states.

© Copyright 2013 Bloomberg News. All rights reserved.
Source: Newsmax.com

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